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A question about violence and the initiation of force.

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If you disagree - please help me to understand how you value anything less than your own survival, according to objectivism.

No one is arguing about whether or not there is a way to know if obeying is the proper course of action. The only point is that a mugger is using force in order to stop you from refusing or making a variety of choices.

Let's consider how "wash the dishes or else we get divorced" differs from "your money or your kneecaps" before discussing further. (I made this example slightly trickier so the result of disobeying in either case is that you're still alive). Can you list the characteristics that differentiate these actions?

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This is a ridiculous reading of the position you're attempting to argue against that doesn't belong in an honest debate.

Does the mugger want you to present an argument? No! He wants you to give him the money. If you start presenting an argument, you are acting against his desires. If you feel that you are "compelled" t

Next time you get robbed, ignore them and keep walking to the bank to make the deposit as you had reasoned and previously acted upon.

I suppose that depends on how skilled you are at thievery, how likely you are to get caught,etc. And even if repeated thievery isn't a good long-term strategy, that doesn't mean that it wouldn't be in one's self interest to steal if you are almost certain to get away with it.

There is no getting away from reality.

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It's pretty interesting to see people talk about having a gun put to your head in the comfort and safety of an internet forum, but wholly in a manner that appears COMPLETELY detached from the reality of that situation. banghead.gif

Looking down the barrel of one is not a comforting situation in any way, shape or form.

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Right, but the important point is that you can't choose to politely decline (and a variety of other choices). You are compelled to make decisions in this case of only what the mugger desires, thereby rendering your self-interest irrelevant. You can make a choice like presenting an argument, but then you get shot.

Does the mugger want you to present an argument? No! He wants you to give him the money. If you start presenting an argument, you are acting against his desires. If you feel that you are "compelled" to act a certain way, it is due to your own desire for self-preservation; not because the mugger is controlling your mind or your decisions.

The idea isn't that a threat suddenly makes you unable to think, but you are forced to think in only the immediate present

Once again: The mugger doesn't have magical mind control powers. He can't force you to think a certain way. The Jedi Mind Trick doesn't actually exist in the real world.

Only threats with a physical promise behind them have any quality to them that is forceful and not merely persuasion.

On the contrary, threats (whether they are violent or non-violent) are merely a means of persuasion. For that matter, what basis do you have for saying that physical threats are immoral if non-violent persuasion isn't immoral? If violent threats are a form of mind control, then it implies that persuasion is also a kind of mind control.
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Once again: The mugger doesn't have magical mind control powers. He can't force you to think a certain way. The Jedi Mind Trick doesn't actually exist in the real world.

This is a ridiculous reading of the position you're attempting to argue against that doesn't belong in an honest debate.

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Ok, I'll agree- my wife isn't forcing me. But that just proves that a man who points a gun at my head isn't forcing me either.

The guy with the gun to your head is giving you the choice of do what he says or stop being able to choose, ever again.

Do you consider those to be valid choices?

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On the contrary, threats (whether they are violent or non-violent) are merely a means of persuasion. For that matter, what basis do you have for saying that physical threats are immoral if non-violent persuasion isn't immoral? If violent threats are a form of mind control, then it implies that persuasion is also a kind of mind control.

That's why I then asked you to tell me the differences the two means of persuasion. Yes, violent threats are a means of persuasion, I know this. So now, I'm requesting you to tell me what the characteristics of the two types of threats are. What is especially important to know is why the method works in some circumstances. There is no way to reach the idea that "threats are force" without at least first differentiating a variety of persuasion methods.

Keep in mind that you're extending the meaning of force to such a broad level, to a level no one is suggesting. This reminds me of something Aristotle wrote regarding force, so I should look that up, since it might help you here.

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Right, that's why "having to choose between options you don't accept" is not the criterion for a rights-violation. The initiation of physical force by human beings is. The effects of this category of action are the negation of one's right to choose to act in his rational self-interest. It's only overly broad if you make a false equivocation between the effects of aggression by human beings and the criterion of a rights violation.

Then why is the initiation of physical force the criterion for a rights violation? Why aren't non-violent threats also a criterion for rights violation? The answers I've seen so far seem to rely on circular logic or tautologies(e.g. "violence is immoral because it's a rights violation, and rights violations are immoral since they involve violence")

If your wife threatens you with divorce there is no initiation of force because the criterion of a rights violation is not "not getting my every whim."
Wait...so a divorce threat is not the initiation of force because the criterion of a rights violation is...initation of force? see above statement about tautologies

The freedom to make an exchange necessarily implies the equivalent freedom not to make an exchange. There is no logical middle ground here. Everyone has the right to refuse to make an exchange with what is theirs, otherwise they would be the ones being forced then.
And if a man holds you at gunpoint and asks for your money, you have the right to refuse him. If you don't like it, then you're just like James Taggart, complaining that "reality is enslaving you by not giving you your whims!". Right?

When Eioul says you are no longer autonomous, he doesn't mean metaphysically autonomous, he means morally autonomous. What this means is that when you are enslaved, you have been denied a crucial element of moral self-directedness, i.e. being denied the ability to act independently.

The ability (as opposed to responsibility) to act independently depends only on your metaphysical autonomy. And honestly I don't see too many cases in which people actually do lose moral autonomy- unless the person has been drugged (or rendered unconscious), or unless the person is too young or mentally disabled to understand the consequences of their actions.

If a slave knowingly beats his wife for cheating on him, wouldn't he be morally autonomous? According to the criteria you've given, he would not be, since he lost moral autonomy. But this is absurd, as his being enslaved is not what caused him to attack his wife. So what are the criteria for being morally autonomous?

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Let's consider how "wash the dishes or else we get divorced" differs from "your money or your kneecaps" before discussing further. (I made this example slightly trickier so the result of disobeying in either case is that you're still alive). Can you list the characteristics that differentiate these actions?

Yeah. In the divorce threat, the consequence for not washing the dishes is an unpleasant experience (the divorce). In the kneecap threat, the consequence for not giving the money is an unpleasant experience (having your kneecaps broken).

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The guy with the gun to your head is giving you the choice of do what he says or stop being able to choose, ever again.

Do you consider those to be valid choices?

Strictly speaking, those are the choices he wants me to consider. I still have other options- I could try running away, or retaliating, or simply refusing. I could even try calling his bluff- just because he makes a threat doesn't mean he actually intends to follow through.

Once that's established, it merely comes down to making the choices that likely to have the best consequences for my self-interest. I might not like the choices that are available...but that's life. Reality isn't obligated to cater to my whims. Right?

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That's why I then asked you to tell me the differences the two means of persuasion. Yes, violent threats are a means of persuasion, I know this. So now, I'm requesting you to tell me what the characteristics of the two types of threats are. What is especially important to know is why the method works in some circumstances. There is no way to reach the idea that "threats are force" without at least first differentiating a variety of persuasion methods.

When I ask why violent threats are immoral, I get answers about how it is violating your rights by forcing your choices. But as I have shown, people retain their free will, even if threatened- and so thus far I have seen no reason to conclude that non-violent threats (and other forms of persuasion) don't force your choice just as much as a violent threat. Both violent and non-violent threats are cases where other people influence your decisions to their benefit and your loss by giving undesirable options. In both cases, if you refuse the threat, you risk facing negative consequences to your self interest. The only real difference is that the violent threat deals with violent, physical force- but you can't use this fact to prove that it is immoral, because that would be circular logic.

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But as I have shown, people retain their free will, even if threatened- and so thus far I have seen no reason to conclude that non-violent threats (and other forms of persuasion) don't force your choice just as much as a violent threat.

No, you have TRIED to show that, but you haven't actually shown that. Since you can really say anything you want about what "choices" you would have from the sterile comfort of an intellectual exercise, I think the only thing that might sway you at this point would be being surrounded by 3 or 4 MS13 members with guns and machetes who want your bling. I'd personally love to see you even think of the words "strictly speaking" at that point. Hey, I could be wrong. Perhaps you are some Special Forces intellectual with mad martial arts training and lots of real life street cred.

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Both violent and non-violent threats are cases where other people influence your decisions to their benefit and your loss by giving undesirable options. In both cases, if you refuse the threat, you risk facing negative consequences to your self interest.

That's how they're the same, but differences aren't well worked out. So, you've got violent and non-violent. Why would someone choose violence over non-violence to get their way? Clearly, there are reasons to use violent threats, and reasons to use non-violent threats, so what are those reasons?

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Yeah. In the divorce threat, the consequence for not washing the dishes is an unpleasant experience (the divorce). In the kneecap threat, the consequence for not giving the money is an unpleasant experience (having your kneecaps broken).

I don't know whether to be horrified at the ignorance of this statement or to congratulate you on having managed to live a life that has left you unaware of what physical agony is like.

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...... live a life that has left you unaware of what physical agony is like.

Oh no, you got it all wrong. See that's why torturers threaten to break up people's marriages rather than break bones or shove bamboo chutes up people's finger tips; there's virtually no difference in the result and they don't have to go cut down bamboo or carry around a heavy hammer. tongue.gif

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No, you have TRIED to show that, but you haven't actually shown that. Since you can really say anything you want about what "choices" you would have from the sterile comfort of an intellectual exercise, I think the only thing that might sway you at this point would be being surrounded by 3 or 4 MS13 members with guns and machetes who want your bling. I'd personally love to see you even think of the words "strictly speaking" at that point. Hey, I could be wrong. Perhaps you are some Special Forces intellectual with mad martial arts training and lots of real life street cred.

Just because the choice to resist is available doesn't mean it's the most rational one. In fact, unless you are some sort of martial arts superman, the choice to resist a violent attack is almost certainly irrational. But it's still a choice - not even the mugger can force you to not resist- he can only react to your decisions.

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That's how they're the same, but differences aren't well worked out. So, you've got violent and non-violent. Why would someone choose violence over non-violence to get their way? Clearly, there are reasons to use violent threats, and reasons to use non-violent threats, so what are those reasons?

Because they estimate that violent threats are more likely to get the victim to do what they want.

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I don't know whether to be horrified at the ignorance of this statement or to congratulate you on having managed to live a life that has left you unaware of what physical agony is like.

And here I thought Objectivism relied on logic and reason instead of emotional appeals....

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Oh no, you got it all wrong. See that's why torturers threaten to break up people's marriages rather than break bones or shove bamboo chutes up people's finger tips; there's virtually no difference in the result and they don't have to go cut down bamboo or carry around a heavy hammer. tongue.gif

I didn't say that there was no difference. Obviously there is a difference; the onus is still on you to show why that difference matters.

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